Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review:: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

I actually finished reading this book a few weeks ago, but I've put off writing about it because I didn't really know how I felt about it then, and in all honesty, even now I'm not so sure.

It, as the title states, is an Encyclopedia of the life of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Most of it is set up in alphabetical order but there are also charts and diagrams and a timeline of her life from birth until the book was published. The timeline, while only 20 pages, took me three nights to read. It literally kept boring me to sleep. I don't give a rats ass that in 1976 she discovered Ziggy and it remained an obsession throughout her teen years.

Next up is Alphabetized Existence. This section takes up the majority of the book and is filled with Amy's thoughts on various things. Some entries are just one or two sentence snippets, others are lengthier. Here are some examples found under F:


Can you be a feminist yet still do a double take when you see a woman UPS driver?



I can rattle off the fifty states in alphabetical order in seventeen seconds.

Okay. See, as I was reading entries such as this, I found myself repeatedly thinking, "I really don't care." And I hate not caring about a book I'm reading.

There were times it was more interesting though. For instance under D she writes a paragraph titled Dishwasher and it's all about how it's impossible to load someone else's dishwasher because everyone has their own system. Clearly this isn't thought provoking stuff here, but it's true, cute, and mildly entertaining, which is how I viewed most of this book.

Another example of true, cute, and mildly entertaining would be this entry titled Right Foot:

When Paris {the authors daughter} was little, she would ask me "Mommy is this shoe on the right foot?" and I would glance over and say "Yes, Paris that's the right foot." But then a few seconds later, she would ask about the other shoe, "and is this the right foot?" as if there were another option. Depending on my mood, it would be either really irritating or really charming.

I think that the author seems very cool and that we have a lot of the same opinions about things. If I were to know her in real life, we'd probably get along. If I were to know her in real life, this book would probably be much more interesting. Since I don't know her in real life, it just seems like undeveloped randomness from a stranger. Which isn't bad, just not necessarily what I want from a book. I would liken it to blog reading. Sometimes when I read a blog post, I'm moved and inspired. Other times, I've forgotten what the post was about five seconds after X-ing out of the screen.

So. The question I've been having trouble with: Would I recommend this book? Well, I paid 75 cents for an 'acceptable' used copy off of It's definitely well worth that. It's a great book to read in small moments of time throughout the day but if you want something meatier, you'll need to look elsewhere.


CT said...

Dont you hate it when a book sucks like that??? not really "I want to burn this sorry excuse of a book" but just... blah.

Mari said...

Sounds like torture! Lately I'm about ready to turn back to the classics. You can't beat the Grapes of Wrath or the Great Gatsby. Also, I am awaiting the new Stieg Larsson book to land in my library. Can't wait, I really liked the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Tammie said...

ct: yes! and thats exactly how i felt about this book. i just couldnt get through it.

mari: i know! i feel like ive been reading a lot of clunkers lately. i may need to pick up The Bell Jar or The Catcher in the Rye.
I have no idea who Stieg Larsson is. I may have to look him up.

Daphne said...

That sounds like one of those books you pick up at a friend's house or something while waiting for them, and get mildly interested, and so when they say, "Oh, do you want that?" you say, "Okay" and then spend the next few weeks trying to get into it and wondering why you said yes.

Not that I'd know anything about that.

Aleta said...

From the sounds of it, I wouldn't buy the book. Thanks for the write up on it. The random thoughts like that would make for a fun blog, but not a book to purchase.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

have you ever read Lovely Bones?
Haunting. It is the only book I have ever read and then put down and thought - boy that would make a good movie. i understand it will be as well. Give it a shot and let me know. I just loved it. I cried, I laughed and it just plain moved me.

But I think this one you reviewed I will not attempt.

Maria Rose said...

That's a weird and very self-indulgent premise.

Tammie said...

daphne: thats actually exactly what this book is like. in fact, i had seen it mentioned on another blog (although im not sure which one) and i thought it looked kinda neat. thank god i only paid 75 cents for it.

aleta: i totally agree. i love randomness in a blog but as a just didnt do it for me.

peg: i havent read that one but its on my list!

maria rose: isnt it though?!

Hotch Potchery said...

Who is the chick that wrote it? Should I have heard of her?

Tammie said...

possibly. i think shes written a bunch of childrens books too.

Barefoot_Mommy said...

It sounds like the kind of book I would put in the bathroom. LOL Any other bathroom readers out there? It's the perfect kind of book for company and such to flip through while using your facilities... that way they aren't tempted to peek through the medicine cabinets.

Tammie said...

i agree.
thats where i read most of it.

Betts said...

Sounds like a good book for the bathroom.