Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Slump-Busting Nonfiction: Two Mini-Reviews

I'm not sure what it is with me and reading this month, but I just can't seem to get interested in or focus on literary fiction. Countless books have been abandoned after the first chapter or two failed to wow me. Perhaps I'm becoming too fussy or difficult to please, but I think a much-dreaded reading slump is the culprit.

Rereading old favorites is my usual remedy but, since I'm here in Florida and my books are back home, a trip to the library was in order. Surprisingly, I found myself drawn toward the nonfiction  shelves. Light nonfiction, in particular.



Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

How could I resist a book with this blurb?
"In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry."
It proved to be irreverent, gossipy, foul-mouthed, slightly immature, and just plain fun. Although not as good as Kitchen Confidential, I read half the book when I got home from the library and immediately felt my slump lifting. When I picked it up again 48 hours later, I had grown a little tired of the narrator. I'd recommend setting aside an afternoon or evening and reading this in one sitting.

Most important takeaway? You'll never get a really nice room or an upgrade if you book a hotel with expedia.

I wonder if the library has Waiter Rant. Have you read it?



Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott

I'd never heard of Madame Chic  until Katherine reviewed another of these books on her blog not too long ago. It looked like fun and I was happy to find this title on the library shelf. You're probably familiar with most of her "secrets", but I was entertained for a couple of hours and did pick up a few tips.

     Use a finishing spray... your make-up really will last longer.
     Consider a clarisonic for skin care.
     Retain an air of mystery through silence.
     Develop a signature entertaining style.
     (At my age, I already have a signature style, but it's still good advice.)

I would certainly borrow (not buy) other Madame Chic titles.


Do you have other light nonfiction titles to recommend?

28 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed Madame Chic even if it wasn't anything groundbreaking. I've been thinking about Heads in Beds in audio since my library has it. I may wait awhile since I'm in a bit of an audio slump after Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw. I really enjoyed it and since then nothing audio-wise has felt quite right. Hope you bust the slump soon!

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    1. Katherine - Madame Chic was a fun, quick read and I'm glad you introduced me to her! I had to laugh because my daughter has been telling me to use a finishing or setting spray for years.

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  2. I'm 56 and still haven't figured out my signature style! I'm hopeless when it comes to fashion.

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    1. Kathy - I seem to be getting worse about fashion as I age!

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  3. Can I just say that the idea of a 'finishing spray' is a little scary? Hair, yes, face? not so much. :)

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    1. Audrey - My daughter swears by it, lol. She will work at L'Oreal this summer. I think she's in the right place ;-)

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  4. Hmmm...finishing spray? All I can think is that I would probably sneeze and also that would assume you are wearing make-up. Which I don't nearly as much as I used to.

    And, you know, I hate hotels. Really. When we travel now, we like to use a vacation rental place like Homeaway. I've decided I'm just too old for kids/teens/drunk adults/whatever running down the halls at 2AM. Is it just me? LOL

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    1. Kay - Oh, I'm way too old for that, too. Thankfully, we've been really lucky with the last few hotels we visited.

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  5. May it has something to do with being on vacation. When we use to go to Aruba for 2 weeks every year, I had to bring NF, mysteries or something light for beach reading. I am sure you will bounce back JoAnn.

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    1. Diane - I'm finally beginning to bounce back now, but still don't seem to be able to sit and read for quite as long.

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  6. My friend introduced me to Madame Chic and we spent a few days in Sydney laughing ourselves to death as my friend tried to find the sea foam sweater everyone must have to complete their essential wardrobe of ten items. What colour is sea foam anyway?Jennifer Scott has a blog that is full of both sublime and ridiculous techniques. Google her blog sometime when you need a laugh.

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    1. Pam - I'll definitely have to check out her blog. Sounds very entertaining.

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  7. Ha! I wonder what my fashonista daughter thinks of Madame Chic. Like Kay, I hardly wear any makeup anymore, so finishing spray is out for me. ;) Glad you found your way out of your slump. Enjoy the rest of your time in Florida!

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    1. Les - Today is the last day here. I really don't want to go home, but how can I complain about 8 weeks in paradise?

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  8. Thanks for your mini-reviews. These two books certainly would be good to look at to lift a slump. Thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. Pat - I never thought to try light non-fiction for a reading slump before. This was perfect!

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  9. I'm very interested in Heads in Beds, if only the writing/narration is better. Immature writing or annoying narrators in nonfiction bugs the hell out of me.

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    1. Athira - If you read Heads in Beds in a single sitting, it would be fine. I just found that I'd grown tired of the tone by the next day.

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  10. Hope you have beat the reading slump! Such an annoying thing for a reader. I use light NF too when I'm struggling or unable to focus. Must put my mind or attitude or something into a different "place."

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    1. Terri B. - The slump is pretty much over, now I just don;t have much time to read ;-)

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  11. Maybe your slump could be cured with children's books. I've had good luck reading middle-grade stories. I'm guessing the light nonfiction worked to a certain extent for yout because it took you to a different place than your normal reading does. If you want to try what the kids are reading, may I suggest the Newberry Medal winners - definitely available at the library. A couple of my favorites are Midwife's Apprentice and Dead End in Norvelt. Whatever you do, I hope you recover soon.

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    1. Margot - Now that you mention it, I would love to reread Harriet the Spy.It was a childhood favorite!

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  12. Heads in Beds sounds great--wonderful way to beat the blues.

    Now if only more people would cultivate an air of mystery through silence! :)

    Happy reading!

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    1. JaneGS - I usually love hotels, so found Heads in Beds wonderfully entertaining! This world could definitely do with a little more silence ;-)

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  13. Both sound like fun books to get through winter -- though I have a feeling you're not really suffering like the rest of us stuck in the north :p

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    1. Beth F - Ha! I'm defintiely not suffering here ;-)

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  14. Huh. I think a good readalong helps get one out of slump. and seeing a movie trailer for a classic on your 50 list and SQUEEEEEe = the audio is SO good right now! And. and. and. just saying hello....

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    1. Care - So glad to hear Far From the Madding Crowd is good!! I'll be back to winter tomorrow, so should get a lot of reading in this month. Hope I can catch up with you soon.

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