Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

My Own Two Feet by Beverly Cleary January 23, 2016

Filed under: adult biography,adult memoir,Uncategorized — Bethany @ 12:27 pm
Tags: , ,

My Own Two FeetMy Own Two Feet is the second part of the autobiography of beloved author Beverly Cleary. The story begins in the 1930’s as Ms. Cleary is leaving her home in Portland, Oregon to attend college in California. Readers learn about her college experiences, her struggles to fund her education in a post-Depression economy, her relationship with her parents, her early career as a librarian, and her beginnings as a children’s book author.

This book was absolutely fascinating! I loved the Ramona books growing up and have found that they’ve stood the test of time. Ms. Cleary says that she was inspired to write children’s books when, as a young librarian, a group of boys asked her for books about kids like them and she found there was nothing to give them. I really liked reading about her life as a female college student in the 30’s. She was really quite brave and as independent as she could be during an era where young women went from being under the wing of their parents to their husbands. It was also interesting to learn that librarians now face many of the same dilemmas as they did over 75 years ago. Her story of being assigned to further destroy ratty books to justify throwing them away under the watchful eye of tax payers made me laugh. I would recommend this book to adults, especially librarians, who want to know about this strong and interesting woman.

5 out of 5 stars


Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan August 14, 2013

Filed under: adult memoir,adult non-fiction — Bethany @ 9:50 am
Tags: , ,

Dad Is FatJim Gaffigan, comedian famous for his Hot Pockets routine, has written a book about being a father. He and his wife have five young children in a two-bedroom New York City apartment. He talks about the different aspects of raising children, especially in a big city.

This book had its laugh-out-loud moments, but overall it wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped. It also had some sentimental parts about how special it is to have children. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had kids of my own.

3 out of 5 stars


Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris July 10, 2013

Filed under: adult memoir — Bethany @ 5:45 pm

Holidays on IceThis is a collection of essays about Sedaris’s gig as an elf at Macy’s during Christmastime. He theorizes that even though he most likely failed the drug test and had a terrible answer to the interview question “Why do you want to work here?”, he was chosen because he is short. His descriptions of the many types of elf one can be on any given day, the terrible parents who drag their children to SantaLand, and the good and bad santas keep the reader cringing and laughing throughout the whole book.

Again, the audiobook is the way to go. As a child, I’m thankful I was never made to sit on Santa’s lap only to have the register elf tell my parents the picture would be mailed at the end of January. Extremely funny book.

5 out of 5 stars


When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Filed under: adult memoir — Bethany @ 5:37 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

When You Are EngulfedA collection of witty essays by humor writer David Sedaris. Stories include his time living in France, using LP album covers to scare away birds terrorizing him, his adventure to Tokyo to quite smoking, and his avoidance of the bulkhead in an airplane at any cost, including the wrath of his seatmate.

I tried to read a David Sedaris book several years ago and couldn’t get into it. I discovered the key to my enjoyment of his work is to listen to the audiobook. Sedaris reads his own books, and his voice telling the stories makes all the difference. I laughed out loud so many times during the book. I even rewound the book to listen to parts again. Other people have said this isn’t his best book, but I enjoyed it as my first.

5 out of 5 stars


I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern September 16, 2012

The story begins as Justin confides to his dad that he’s going to propose to his girlfriend.  In subsequent chapters, we flash back to Justin’s various encounters with girls, from his second grade crush to his disastrous senior prom to his future fiance.  There are many awkward moments, disappointments, and rejections along the way.  And of course the advice and wisdom of his father.  “Son, you’re a little on the jittery side.  It’s okay.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  It don’t mean you don’t have a pair of balls, it just means you’re more choosy when you use them.  That’s not always a bad thing.”

Much like his first book, Sh*t My Dad Says, this book was funny.  Really funny.  I was laughing so hard there were tears running down my face at one point.  My favorite part was his trip to Europe during college and after a couple of drunken nights at a club he is given this diagnosis by a Spanish doctor, “Some people, they are very good at alcohol, and they go to many discos, and it is okay.  Some people, they are very bad at alcohol, and it is not good for them discos, and they are good at sitting.  You are good at sit down.”  Keeping in mind it’s heavy on the swearing, you should read this book if you’re ready to laugh.

5 out of 5 stars


Wild by Cheryl Strayed May 3, 2012

In her devastation after her young mother’s death, Cheryl’s life falls apart.  Her family scatters, her marriage ends, and everything she used to believe is lost.  While running an errand at the hardware store, she runs across a book that will change her life.  The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume I: California sticks in her mind until she makes a decision: she’s going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  Shortly afterward, she straps on her heavy backpack for an 1,100 mile journey through the Mojave Desert in California to the northern border of Oregon.  She has no experience as a long-distance hiker and encounters many wild animals, extreme weather conditions, and hardships on the way to healing her broken spirit.

This book was well done and really held my interest.  I don’t think I would attempt a trip like the one she describes, but it made for a great story.  It’s similar in subject to Eat, Pray, Love, but better.  I would recommend this for any adults who like to read memoirs, books about travel, or stories about life journeys.

5 out of 5 stars


Bossypants by Tina Fey January 25, 2012

Tina Fey started her life in show business at Summer Showtime, an acting camp that did double-duty as a refuge for gay teens.  With a short, less-than-glamorous stint at the front desk of the YMCA, she went on to do an improv show in Chicago.  After a nerve-wracking interview with Lorne Michaels, she became a writer for Saturday Night Live and later created her own comedy show, 30 Rock.  Sprinkled throughout the book are stories of her childhood, memories of her near-death experience on her honeymoon, tips for a successful fashion shoot, opinions of Photoshop, tales of motherhood, and her true feelings about Sarah Palin.

This book was hilarious yet poignant and had a nice balance of truth and sarcastic asides.  I really enjoyed it and found myself laughing out loud more than once.  I would definitely recommend this to any adult, especially those who have seen her on TV.  Her voice really shines throughout the book.


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Filed under: adult memoir — Bethany @ 7:32 pm
Tags: , , ,

Mindy Kaling, best known for her work on The Office, has written a book of stories, lists, and random thoughts.  Learn how she got her start as a comedy writer and actress, the qualities a great friend must possess, how to tell if you’re dating a boy or a man, and the essential pieces to Mindy’s funeral, should you find yourself planning it one day.

It was fun to read about a celebrity who is so honest and self-aware.  Her writing style is reminiscent of conversations with my sister.  The book wasn’t quite as funny as I had hoped, but it was a quick, fun read.


Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs March 25, 2011

A disturbing look at the life of Augusten Burroughs.  After much fighting, his parents divorced, leaving Augusten to live with his mother.  She is obviously mentally ill and seeks help from an unorthodox psychiatrist, Dr. Finch.  Burroughs goes on to describe his inclusion into the Finch household, eventually being adopted by the doctor.  The filthy living conditions, unrestricted children, and the general lifestyle of the Finches is horrifying and, at times, shocking.

I am not easily offended, but reading this book made me feel the need to take a shower.  I alternated between recoiling in horror and laughing.


Just Kids by Patti Smith February 26, 2011

Filed under: adult memoir,nonfiction — Bethany @ 11:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When she was 20 years old, Patti Smith boarded a bus to New York to try life as an artist.  Her plan was to stay with friends in Brooklyn, find a job to support herself, and learn how to be an artist.  When Patti arrived in Brooklyn, her friends were no longer there and she was homeless, jobless, and hungry.  Eventually Patti finds friendship with a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe, a fellow aspiring artist.  The two lean on one another as they struggle to stay afloat in Brooklyn and find their way in the art world.  Their relationship and their talents evolve with friendships and encounters with a variety of fellow artists including Janis Joplin and Allen Ginsberg and years spent at the Hotel Chelsea.  Both eventually come into their talents, Patti in music, Robert in photography.

Just Kids comes from a promise from Patti Smith to Robert Mapplethorpe that she would write their story.  The book primarily discusses their beginnings and their relationship; it does not go into much detail about them after they become famous.

This book was an interesting collection of memories from the lives of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe.  It contains names of many different well-know musicians, artists, and writers that the two encountered.  I think I would have appreciated the book more if I had grown up during that era or had more knowledge of art and music from that time.

National Book Award winner


%d bloggers like this: