The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett
It's not Bel Canto, and the story and characters are somewhat implausible, but I enjoyed this Ann Patchett book just the same. I like seeing how her writing progresses from her earlier books to her later ones.
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
My first Vowell book, and definitely not my last. Funny and educational is a winning combination.
Appetite for Life: The Biography of Julia Child by Noel Riley Fitch
This is what a great biography is all about - a collection of small details you shouldn't care about or find interesting, but you do because Fitch was able to put them all in one place and create a marvelous tale about a woman named Julia. Though I could hardly stand to read about all the years after Paul got sick, because he and Julia were wonderful together, and it was just too sad to read about him leaving her life mentally then physically.
Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee
McNamee can't quite pull off for Alice what Fitch did for Julia, but I loved reading about the early years of Alice Water's life and the beginnings of Chez Panisse. I dined there 5 years ago, and the actual experience and food surpassed everything I had heard about the restaurant. It was fun to find out more about how that night of olives, local salad, quail, and raspberry souffle came to be.
Julia Child by Laura Shapiro
The Rachael Ray version of Julia's life.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
Half a fascinating and horrifying account of a young Hmong girl with epilepsy living in California, and half a history and description of the Hmong people. I could not put the odd chapters down, but found the even ones a little boring and drawn out.
As a Friend by Forrest Gander
A lovely, lovely, small book. Beautiful writing that only a poet could achieve.
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I had to take a break with this after I got 1/3 of the way through. I read his Shadow of the Wind for my bookclub a couple of years ago and we all loved it. This new book was supposed to be better, but it wasn't. Not even close.
The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller
I read Lost in the Forest by Miller 3 years ago and I'm not sure why it took me so long to get back to her. Not quite as good as that one, but still an entertaining, late Summer read.
Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman
Waldman has gotten a lot of criticism in the past for some of her essays (one in particular about loving her husband more than her children), but I found myself saying, "oh yes," many many more times than I said, "oh no." While this book is filled with funny and sweet moments, there is one profoundly heartbreaking moment. I closed this book feeling thankful Waldman wrote with such honesty about her motherhood.